What Happens When Pop Ups pop down?

Produce UK is proud to have been invited to speak at one of Public Practice’s R&D sessions this month to talk about our experience on meanwhile use. The session’s aim was to explore the longer-term impacts of meanwhile use projects on communities, places and local economies and to ask: What happens when pop-ups pop down? And how can we plan for the legacy of meanwhile uses from the outset?

Represented by our Head of Placemaking Sofia Dawe, the session proved to be a fruitful discussion on best practices and how to plan for legacy for such schemes.

Participants in the panel included Nicolas Bosetti from Centre for London – talking about some some really interesting insights from CfL’s upcoming report on Meanwhile Use and its financial impact for London as a whole – as well as David Knight from DK_CM Architects and Carolina Caicedo from design consultancy The Decorators – talking about a joint project in Erith.

Produce UK’s presentation focused on the case study of IQL in Stratford, a project where we had to plan for multiple instances of meanwhile use. Our point was that in order for a scheme to be relevant it is vital to understand who are we creating the place for, who are our audiences and what are their needs and aspirations. To plan for legacy means also advising on the future use of the public realm, where the meanwhile scheme is only a piece in the puzzle of a wider community engagement strategy.

The panel discussion revolved around important questions about what are these schemes precursors of (most commonly redevelopment – to which our point about planning for legacy becomes ever so crucial), to what extent should local authorities get involved and common bottlenecks faced by practitioners when implementing meanwhile use schemes (particularly around planning restrictions) and even rural placemaking!

The session itself was hosted at an brilliant meanwhile use scheme, the Croydon Arts Store – an empty retail unit now used as art studios and events space, a Croydon Council initiative.

Public Practice is a non-profit organisation placing a new generation of urban planners within local government to to build the public sector’s capacity to deliver homes and growth, make better places, and share skills and knowledge across authorities. Public Practice acts as a broker, selecting outstanding Associates and matching them to Authorities in need of additional planning and placemaking expertise.

The session was part of Public Practice’s Research & Development (R&D) programme, in which Associates commit part of their time to critical issues around planning including economic development, sustainability and infrastructure, among others.


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